Mary and Gary West's 5-year-old Florida-bred mare Sweet Lips won the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita last year for trainer Bobby Frankel and has been training at Gulfstream since early December for a title defense in Saturday's $500,000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Distaff.
Jockey Edgar Prado gets the call on the chestnut daughter of Kris S., who went on to a second-place finish in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita after the Sunshine Millions. Sweet Lips finished a dull sixth as the favorite in the Stage Door Betty Handicap at Calder Dec. 31. However, it was her first start since March and she did not appear to handle the track that day while beaten only 3 3/4 lengths.
Sweet Lips' most formidable rival in the field of nine fillies and mares would appear to be James Weigel's 7-year-old mare Dream of Summer, third in the race at Santa Anita last year and one of three contenders flying in from California.
Trainer Juan Garcia has secured the services of jockey John Velazquez and they could go off favored on current form. After the Sunshine Millions last year, Dream of Summer finished second by a nose in the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) with Sweet Lips sixth. She then shipped to Oaklawn Park to capture the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) in April.
The California-bred daughter of Siberian Summer later posted victories in the Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park and the California Cup Matron at Santa Anita before a second-place effort last out in the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11.
Jerry Bailey has the mount on Secret Corsage.
Seven of the nine entrants are Florida breds.$500,000 Sunshine Millions Ocala Breeders' Sales Distaff Stakes (Race 8, 4:45 p.m. ET), fillies & mares 4 & up bred in California & Florida, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. House of Fortune (CA), 122, Pat Valenzuela
2. Special Report (FL), 122, Eddie Castro
3. Snug Harbour (FL), 120, Javier Castellano
4. Pitanga (FL), 120, Rafael Bejarano
5. American Miss (FL), 122, Jose Lezcano
6. Secret Corsage (FL), 122, Jerry Bailey
7. Dream of Summer (CA), 122, John Velazquez
8. Sweet Lips (FL), 122, Edgar Prado
9. Formal Lady (FL), 122, Rajiv Maragh